So it appears that 2019 is one-third over and, as I expected given that I was teaching all the classes this past semester, I am way behind on my goals for 2019!
One goal that I’m only a little bit behind on, however, is my goal to read 20 books this year. I’ve read 6 – or 30% of my goal. Here’s a rundown of 5 of them – the 6th one deserves its own blog posting, so that will come later.
As mentioned last year, I’m listening to the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno, in which a man is reading terribly written erotic novels that his father wrote, completely skewering it with a couple of his friends. But since he reads an entire book each season, I think it’s only fair that I get to count them as books I’ve read, much like I would an audiobook. I’ve finished off two more seasons of the podcast, which means I’ve read:
Belinda Blinked; 2: The continuing story of, dripping sex, passion and big business deals. Keep following the sexiest sales girl in business as she earns her huge bonus by removing her silk blouse. Even just that title is ludicrous. Nothing in the book makes sense and the sex is pretty much always the least sexy people having the least erotic experiences possible. And it’s absolutely hilarious.
Belinda Blinked; 3: The continuing erotic story of sexual activity, dripping action and even bigger business deals as Belinda relentlessly continues to earn her huge bonus. This book had a bombshell in that, at the very end of the book, an actual plot emerged for the first time in the series! I was flabbergasted! I’m listening to season 4 now and while in some chapters it seems like the author has forgotten about this plot, it does come up a few times and I’m hopeful that there will actually be a resolution because book 4 is the last one in the series.
Cath recommended this one and since I absolutely loved Good Omens, which is also by Neil Gaiman, I figured I’d give it try. There are a bunch of characters who are various types of gods that have been brought to America from other countries over the centuries as people immigrated, bringing their conceptions of gods with them. There are figures from indigenous, Norse, Slavic, Ghanaian, Egyptian, and various other mythologies. But gods need to be worshipped to have strength and since not many people think about these old gods anymore, they are not faring that well. And then there are the new gods – the things people worship today, like the media and technology. I won’t get into the plot, but suffice it to say that I quite enjoyed it and I think I’ll watch the TV series version.
(Trigger warning: this section mentions a suicide attempt and trauma). I remember seeing an interview with Clint Malarchuk when this book came out. He is best known for being the NHL goalie who has his necked sliced by a skate in a game and nearly bled to death live on television. He ended up with PTSD from the experience and he also deals with OCD and alcoholism. In the book he talks about growing up, his hockey career, and dealing with his mental health issues (like how he challenged the obsessiveness that comes with OCD into his training as a goalie and his experiences in rehab). He also talks about his suicide attempt, where he put a gun to his chin and pulled the trigger in front of his wife saying “Look what you made me do!”). On the one hand, I think it’s really good that people are talking more about mental health, especially in an industry like professional hockey where men are expected to be “tough” and talking about mental health is seen as “weak”. On the other hand, parts of this book were difficult to read – Malarchuk was verbally and psychologically abusive to his wives1 and I found reading about the way he would gaslight his wife brought up stuff from my past that was somewhat triggering for me. I also found that in the next hockey game I played after reading about the skate blade incident, I was very aware of my neck2.
This book was recommended by Dr. Dan and it was a phenomenal read. It was very different than anything I’ve read before. Parts of it are memoir of growing up in Nunavut, parts are fiction and mythology, and parts are poetry. She moves among these in such a way that I wasn’t always sure what I was reading and then she’d take your breath away with a description of violence she experienced, or a scene of surreal beauty. It’s really hard to describe – you must read it for yourself!
So there are 5 of the 6 books that I’ve read this year. I’ll have to find some time to sit down and write a full blog posting about the 6th book that I’ve read, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. As a teaser, I’ll say that (a) you should read this book for yourself because there is no way I can do it justice, and (b) a major takeaway from this book is that not only do we have to do more than learn how to talk about race, we need to take action to support social justice for all people, if we really care about justice.
Also as a teaser, here are some of the other books that I’m currently reading (which I’ve just realized as I wrote out this list are all textbooks!):
- Co-Operative Inquiry: Research into the Human Condition by John Heron
- Principles-Focused Evaluation: The GUIDE by Michael Quinn Patton
- Values in Evaluation and Social Research by Ernest R. House and Kenneth R. Howe
- In the book, he only refers to his current wife, Joan, by her name – the others are just “my first wife,” “my second wife”, and “my third wife”… at least, I think he had four wives – it was a little while ago now that I read the book, so maybe it was just three. It’s possible that he doesn’t include the names of his other wives out of respect for their privacy, but when reading it I felt like it came across as if they didn’t matter. [↩]
- I always wear a neck guard when I play, in large part from having seen videos like the one of Malarchuk with blood spraying from his neck. But also because I’ve taken a few sticks and pucks to the throat and those hurt even with a neck guard on – I can’t imagine how bad they’d be without! [↩]